(MOBILE, Ala.) – Falling temperatures and family gatherings are all indicative of the beginning of the holiday season. For the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program gardeners and adopters, these signs also point to the culmination of their hard work and dedication: planting season. Since July 9, gardeners and adopters have cared for their juvenile oysters; keeping them clean, keeping them safe and getting them ready for their important future on a restoration reef site.
Four months of work recently concluded the 2011 Oyster Gardening Season with the transport of 57,155 oysters from the comfort of their garden homes to their new residence on a restoration reef site. These oysters grew well, averaging 2.4 inches, which will help them survive without the routine care of their gardeners and adopters or the protection of their gardens. Next spring, these oysters will be ready to spawn, with the hopes that their larvae will find suitable habitat and thrive within Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound.
As in years past, the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program was excited to have students from Alma Bryant High School. The students Derick Tillman, Bentley Dearmon, Michael McCarthy, Johnathan Childress and Stephen Denmark participate in the field work. They worked hard to collect the gardening oysters, record final measurements and counts and complete the planting as a component of their marine science class.
The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program is a completely volunteer-based restoration/education/research project that has planted nearly 500,000 oysters on restoration sites in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. Partners include the gardeners and adopters, as well as the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and Auburn University. If you would like to join as the newest gardener or adopter for the 2012 season, contact PJ Waters at 251.438.5690 or online at www.oystergardening.org.
For additional questions or information, contact P.J. Waters, Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center, 251-438-5690.